A winemaker for Eden Road Wines in Canberra, Hamish is one of several young New Zealanders to have completed EIT’s Graduate Diploma in Oenology last year while working in Australia.
The programme, which offers on-campus as well as the distance study option, emphasises scientific, technical and managerial aspects of winemaking and is regarded as a fast track into an industry specialisation for someone who is already a graduate with an appropriate degree.
Having gained his graduate diploma, Hamish says he has taken on a far higher managerial workload.
From Tauranga – “no vines, but a great lifestyle to grow up in” – he had a brother living in Hawke’s Bay and he recalls countless family trips with afternoons spent relaxing at the region’s wineries.
After leaving school, the now 30-year-old gained a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Otago and went on to complete the Certificate in Grapegrowing and Winemaking at Tairāwhiti Polytechnic, which merged with EIT last year.
“This was my first foray into the industry and provided a great hands-on beginning.”
Having worked several vintages in Gisborne, he then moved to the Barossa Valley – one of Australia’s leading wine regions – and enrolled for EIT’s graduate diploma just as soon as it came on line.
It was the best distance study programme of its kind he could find in the industry, he says, and provided a great excuse for flying back to New Zealand to attend residential schools held at EIT for distance students.
Hamish found the small class sizes encouraged a high level of interaction between students and lecturers and that this made for a great learning environment. A good mix of students also added to the camaraderie and provided “an awesome opportunity” for exploring ideas.
While the online aspect of distance study was easy to navigate and for accessing information, distance study still had its tough moments.
“You really have to be passionate about the material that you are learning and it certainly helped that I thoroughly enjoy the wine industry and have never had regrets about getting into the industry. This probably provided plenty of drive to keep me going with the studies!”
It also helped, he says, having supportive lecturers.
Having travelled through many winemaking regions such as Burgundy, Bordeaux and Champagne in France and California and Oregon in the USA and completed his qualification at EIT, Hamish is now keen to continue developing his winemaking knowledge through future travels.
His career path is still evolving, he says, and may still take many turns – so he isn’t ruling out a return to his homeland.
“I have been lucky to gain valuable opportunities in Australia but New Zealand will always be home.
“The most important thing for me is to continue enjoying the industry, meeting many people along the way, and to one day conclude my career having made a significant impact in the industry.”